Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

For questions about the practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering (GMing).

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107
votes
11answers
28k views

I failed to open a lock. Now what?

Picking a lock typically requires a DC 15 Dexterity check (Basic rules, p. 49). Likewise for manacles (p. 50), which can alternately be escaped with a DC 20 Dexterity check or broken with a DC 20 ...
33
votes
10answers
7k views

How do I prevent my players from abusing long rests?

I am a DM for a D&D 4e game. My players (especially the wizard) like to take an extended rest after every single encounter, because he resorts to using his daily powers in every single encounter (...
10
votes
9answers
2k views

How can I organize my counter collection?

I have just gotten a large collection of monster counters and am wondering how can I store them neatly and in an organized manner after I have punched them out? I am also thinking of ways to easily ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I encourage players to make characters appropriate to the tone and theme of a game?

I have been a GM for many years and have experience with many different systems and settings of different themes and moods, but my current group seems to be having issues I've never had to deal with ...
56
votes
7answers
3k views

How can I make my game more “noir” as a GM?

I ran a couple of Shadowrun games at Dexcon, my first time GMing at a con. It's not my first time running Shadowrun; I based the games off of a couple jobs my players did in a then-ongoing campaign. ...
12
votes
5answers
936 views

How to convey the tone of Shadowrun?

Reading the core book I realized how different Shadowrun is from my usual game of Dungeons & Dragons. We usually play the good guys saving a village from a tribe of goblins. Most of the time we ...
29
votes
4answers
1k views

How does a GM fix the rules when they goof?

I think it happens to the best of us. I'm not the best of us, so I get to goof a bit more often. The specific example I'm going to mention was using Dresden Files (a derivative of FATE for those who ...
19
votes
8answers
4k views

How can I deal with a “goof-ball” player in my WoD group?

I am a storyteller in a World of Darkness group, and I'm about to start designing a new scenario. However one of my players (let's call him Eric) is worrying me. Eric usually goes the goofball route ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

How can I figure out what my players have deduced about hidden aspects of the story without hinting at the secret?

New DM here; our group is in the very early stages of a D&D 5e campaign. My players have been hired to provide security for the wedding between Lord P (whose nefariousness was established in ...
9
votes
2answers
297 views

How can I as GM control off-topic moments and get the players to maintain a serious tone?

My friends and I started playing RPGs at the same time without the help of any experienced person. I am the GM but I struggle to make the players focus on anything that can progress the story in some ...
17
votes
5answers
877 views

Adding comic relief

As a GM, I would like to add comic relief to my sessions. Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension. ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

How to go from a humorous campaign to a more serious one?

I am currently running a D&D 4E game. The game started off kind of goofy (we have a thrikreen rogue with glowing blonde hair, an ale-obsessed dwarf battlemind, a ditzy human wizard, and a dwarf ...
11
votes
5answers
887 views

How can I create a more serious atmosphere when playing with siblings?

At our gaming table the players are always making jokes, and some make nonsense noises for some strange reason. My players generally act like hooligans. Getting a new group is not an option – they're ...
38
votes
6answers
4k views

How to deal with players not taking things seriously?

As both a player and GM I play with my group of players (and close friends) on multiple occasions and they will often make fun of either my characters, NPC or a specific situation and won't stop ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

How to cut back on pre-game joking?

When preparing for a new game (be it a one shot or a campaign) our party, yours truly included, often slips into a humorous mode. It's usually light-hearted fun, and most of us like it, but some, ...
8
votes
5answers
764 views

Help with 3D combat

I recently asked this question, in which one of the comments mentioned there might be problems with 3D combat. My campaign will be nearly entirely underwater, in the deep sea where 3 dimensional ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “Be a fan of the characters” mean?

My group is currently planning to switch system from DnD 5e to some other system. One of the system I've been eyeing is Dungeon World, from the reviews of my community in Discord. Right now I'm ...
15
votes
9answers
7k views

How do I force a party from the Astral Plane?

I am running a high-level, low magic campaign, currently 13th level. When the seas iced over thanks to a Levistus activating an elder relic, the possessed warlock of the party spent some time ...
31
votes
7answers
4k views

What's wrong about addressing the players in Dungeon World?

One of Dungeon World's gamemastering principles is “Address the characters, not the players”: Addressing the characters, not the players, means that you don’t say, “Tony, is Dunwick doing ...
1
vote
0answers
123 views

Are there statistics on how many encounters-per-day most tables have? [closed]

Is there a consensus on how many combat encounters most players experience in a DnD 5E adventuring day? From the DMG, pg 84: Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most ...
20
votes
5answers
972 views

How do I make a single combat in a day challenging and interesting?

4e is a game of resource attrition. I can't find the quote in DMG right now, but from memory and experience, it works best with about 3-5 combat encounters in an adventuring day. That way, some of the ...
15
votes
7answers
621 views

Role-playing within role-playing [closed]

Suppose that the PCs are actors that have to play roles in film, television, theatre. Or that they are some sort of spirits that process other people and make them do their bidding without letting ...
14
votes
0answers
218 views

How can a GM calm down the group when they're chatty? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When and how should I get the players to cut back on their out of character chatter? Now and then the groups I play in or GM can get rather chatty. They're talking and joking ...
38
votes
19answers
7k views

How can I take a powerful plot item away from players without frustrating them?

I am GMing for a group of ex-College friends, who are quite new to role-playing (six month or so), in a custom universe using a lot of characters inspired by Arthurian legends, including the sorcerer ...
21
votes
12answers
7k views

How to prevent discontent among the players when one player murders the others' characters?

I've recently had an idea for a one-shot game (in my own homebrew system that I've been using for a while) where I collaborate with a player to make things more interesting. My plan is to make it look ...
3
votes
0answers
97 views

What makes a convincing mafia? [closed]

I am currently in the process of creating my own world, in a Victorian Era/Industrial Revolution/Steam Age setting. It's not overly steampunk but light elements of it are acceptable, as well as some ...
0
votes
2answers
343 views

Can Infernal Tiefling Always Fly?

Swords of The Coast lists the flying ability for the Winged Tiefling. One player in a group I DM created a "Tiefling (Infernal) Warlock (Undying)" which he has been very specific and detailed about ...
16
votes
6answers
13k views

How can I make a player vs. player fight without it being obvious?

I'm a fairly new DM and am trying to plan my own story, I'm having trouble envisioning an important part however. I have the group getting separated and eventually meeting up. Before they realize it'...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

How to find the line between an investigation and railroading

I'm a fairly experienced GM creating and running a series of Delta Green games (a modern supplement for Call of Cthulhu). While my players and I enjoy the game, there are parts that bog down and get ...
2
votes
0answers
91 views

How can I include a ouija board in an RPG scene? [closed]

I’d like to incorporate a ouija board in an RPG scene. (Campaign specific detail: using one allows PC’s to hack into the GodMachine’s network to ask for specific information). I plan to adapt the ...
8
votes
3answers
551 views

In Roll20, how do you restrict PCs' vision in situations like fog?

For situations like Obscuring Mist and other vision impairment that overcomes Darkvision (and similar abilities), how have you successfully enforced that in Roll20? My PCs would probably meta-game if ...
9
votes
2answers
384 views

How can I discourage gluttony while still granting buffs?

In Wendy's Feast of Legends, characters gain bonuses for foods eaten by their players. The game explicitly mentions that buffs stack and there are a total 6 different food items (briefly: burger, ...
6
votes
3answers
387 views

What precedent is there in an adventure for luring a party with will-o'-wisps?

We are looking to use will-o'-wisps in a Feywild adventure but face a challenge. Since the earliest editions of DnD to the latest, will-o'-wisps have been described as creatures that "lure other ...
2
votes
1answer
154 views

Is players adversarial focus RPG even possible to execute? [closed]

I am new to the RPG community, when I am thinking of a adversarial relationship, I generally think of players co-operate to fight against GM controlled mobs in a campaign. But talking about game ...
3
votes
2answers
106 views

How do I know how much my player can sell his old gear for?

I have a PC who is a dwarf blacksmith in a homebrew world. He's making a new suit of armor and wants to sell his old stuff. How should I decide what he'll get for it? How do I decide what players ...
72
votes
11answers
9k views

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

I would like to run a game with an open world, where the party can explore unconstrained. I would like to do it in D&D 5E, but the power differences are very stark between levels. How can I make ...
6
votes
3answers
294 views

How can I provide the most challenging combats allowed by official 4E rules?

I'm am planning on running a 4E campaign for a fully optimized group of five players. I would prefer to use officially published material and tweak where needed. These players love to be challenged (i....
-1
votes
2answers
146 views

When running animated water as a creature, how can I get stats quickly?

A subquestion of How does animated water work? When a player conjures a creature formed of animated water, for example a Small horse, I find it works best to model that animated water as a CR0 ...
28
votes
5answers
6k views

What do I do when problem player does not attend Session 0?

Apologies if this is not the correct place for this question but I'm at a bit of a loss for what to do and would appreciate the advice of an experienced GM. My party have been playing DnD 5e since ...
23
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there a mechanic for a PC to learn the relative strength of an opponent, stat-wise?

TL;DR: It would be realistic for a PC to be able to evaluate how mechanically strong their opponent is, but I couldn’t find any RAW for this. Am I missing something? Certain skill checks in DnD, like ...
-1
votes
1answer
130 views

How should I handle attempts to make creatures with Shape Water?

A subquestion of How does animated water work? Often players, encouraged by Shape Water's statement that they can give water any combination of simple shapes and cause it to animate as they wish, ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

What are pitfalls I should be aware of with NPC/PC romantic relationships?

I will be running Rise of Tiamat as a sequel to a summer campaign I ran (which was not Hoard of the Dragon Queen). At the end of the campaign two of my PCs, a Bard and a critical role gunslinger, ...
15
votes
4answers
737 views

How can I run a session where two opposing parties play at the same time?

A player of mine had an interesting concept where two parties who are opposed to each other would play at the same time in the same session. In essence the plot would be a group of thieves have been ...
7
votes
1answer
267 views

Is my idea for handling space combat in my setting any good?

I've been using a homebrewed system and hard sci-fi setting (not originally designed for tabletop RPGs, but for writing stories and as my worldbuilding project) with a group of friends for a while now ...
3
votes
1answer
169 views

How can I handle blown cover in a high-stakes game as a GM?

I will be running a high-stakes Eclipse Phase game in the coming weeks and I find myself anticipating a severe problem. The scenario (The Devotees, for any EP players) is based on infiltrating a ...
12
votes
1answer
206 views

When do PCs get spot checks for a gelatinous cube in poor light?

I'm new to DMing, and trying to figure out what's fair vs. fun on when the player characters have a chance to spot a gelatinous cube. So if they are in a dimly lit dungeon, when do you have the PCs ...
43
votes
19answers
9k views

How can I avoid problems that arise from rolling ability scores?

Rolling ability scores is a time-honored tradition across many editions of D&D. However, it can sometimes cause problems for players and/or the DM. For example, one player character may end up ...
8
votes
2answers
202 views

Balancing Karma rewards to be meaningful

I have a Shadowrun 5e group that sadly only comes together once or twice a month. In that group we focus most of our time on the roleplaying aspect of the game, rather than advancing the run itself. ...
11
votes
5answers
638 views

How can I help my players to better immerse into my game world?

Obligatory: I am playing in a campaign I made myself using homebrewed rules based on a German pen-and-paper RPG called Das Schwarze Auge (DSA; The Dark Eye in English). Introduction I am a GM for a ...
21
votes
6answers
2k views

What GM tasks can be delegated to players to speed up encounters?

My party's encounters (D&D4e - 13th level) take on average 3-4 hours. We chit chat a lot and are pretty easily distracted, and it's not a huge deal because we're all having fun. But lately we've ...

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